Where We’ve Been & Where
By Marc Hand
We Might Go
The first stage of the Foundation Project was a comprehensive interview with
virtually all SRG member stations on a variety of issues associated with foundation
funding. This survey took the form of telephone meetings with SRG member station
managers and often included development directors. The focus of the conversations
In addition, I was able to compile a list of the foundation contacts we collectively
have within the SRG membership and found considerable expertise and history that many
stations have with both local and national foundations.
- Explore the history each member has had with foundation fundraising, the role
foundations have played in the overall revenue picture of the stations, and
specifically the type of projects that have been supported by foundations.
- Talk about local projects stations plan to pursue that may be appropriate for
- Detail collaborative regional or national projects that the members would like to see
developed for presentation to major national foundations.
In this report you will find:
SRG’s survey of member stations produced a clear sense of the range of local
successes and the history of relationships with foundations among SRG members. Not
surprisingly the survey found both strong successes and cautions in station’s local
experience with foundations.
The majority of SRG stations that have raised money from local or regional
foundations have secured funding for:
Program support, ranging from national productions to local news,
environmental and other news or information series.
A smaller number of stations have also received foundation grants for:
Capital projects, for building of new studios or stations or helping to upgrade
studios to digital.
Unrestricted underwriting for specific programs or program series.
Stations also have concerns and issues with foundation fundraising that have combined
to limit a broad-based aggressive effort focused on foundations. These issues
Outreach and education projects, direct mail campaigns and, in some cases, for
support of events.
Time and money constraints that, for many stations, have dictated a focus
on the efforts that produce a more immediate return - membership and underwriting.
Many stations see foundation fundraising as a long-term effort that may or may not
produce positive results.
While there is a mixture of success and concerns in their approach to foundations,
there was general agreement that this is an area that could produce more revenue.
Foundation fundraising will remain a lower priority for many SRG members unless
stations can find the resources, staff or expertise needed to pursue local
foundations actively without detracting from other fundraising efforts.
A concern that foundation money rarely supports general operations, and instead
forces the creation of special programs or projects that the station must ultimately
support when foundation money ends.
The tendency to focus on the mission of a particular foundation and create projects
that pull stations away from their core mission.
Many institutional or joint licensees must coordinate their foundation approaches
with development offices that are raising money for a range of other institutional
priorities. In most cases these institutions are hesitant to approach one foundation
for multiple projects. As a result radio is often assigned a lower priority than
other proposal from the organization.
The interview process yielded broad options for the next steps in the Foundation
Large scale national projects. One potential Foundation Project focus is
large scale national projects primarily in the areas of improving the financial
capacity of SRG stations and increasing their delivery capacity. These projects are
national in scope, would have an impact on most if not all SRG members, and would be
coordinated by SRG.
Target constituency collaborative projects. The second major theme that
emerged from the conversations is a number of target constituency collaborative
projects that involve distinct groups within SRG, but not necessarily the entire SRG
membership. These projects have tremendous potential, but will be difficult for
stations to develop without considerable support. SRG can offer the support needed in
the development of these projects and in raising money for the projects from
foundations. Project examples include: a range projects involving the classical music
stations; an exploration of the issues facing institutional licensees; the
development of a data base management system for multiple public radio stations; the
development and pursuit of new technologies (Internet); and the development of
programs in key topic areas (health and health care, environmental series, and other
programs that tie local stations to other local institutions); how to build local
(multiple stations in a single market) and regional collaborations (building
statewide projects, for example in California, the Northwest, etc.), and educational
projects linked to local schools (music education, science, the environment, etc.).
Individual station initiatives. Many stations are interested in pursuing
local foundations for local projects. Some stations have the staff and skills needed
to pursue these projects, and many would like direct assistance in mounting local
These options for the direction of the Foundation Project were discussed by the SRG
consulting team and the SRG board. These discussions resulted in a decision to focus
the initial phase of the Foundation Project on the following task areas:
Pursue a limited number of national scale projects with major national
We initially wanted to provide direct assistance to individual stations pursuing
local foundation fundraising. We have decided to focus on the above two activity
areas initially, and as we develop additional resources we hope to be able to support
the local foundation development efforts of SRG members. Focusing on the two target
areas detailed above will:
Facilitate and help develop four to six target constituency collaborations that would
benefit target SRG member stations, and ultimately may have an impact on other SRG
members and non-member stations.
Make the best use of SRG’s existing strengths of multiple station
Help to build key partnerships within the SRG membership
Provide stronger leverage within the regional and national foundation community by
bringing multiple market projects for foundation support
Offer the ability to build collaborations between foundations that may be more
attracted to projects that are larger than local in scope
Provide the biggest impact for the effort.
There are several action items that I would like to take up as our next steps in the
Foundation Project. These are:
Complete a planning process for the national projects. We will need to
complete planning for the national projects that will be directly linked to the
broader SRG planning process that is underway. Out of this should come a clearly
defined project or set of projects we will pursue with national foundations.
Narrow the list of target constituency collaborations. We will begin to
refine the much longer list of collaborative projects stations have suggested and
concentrate on a group of four to six projects. We must move from the current general
concept stage to a clearly defined action plan. We will work with station groups to
identify station leadership in the target project areas and define the SRG working
groups who will participate in the projects.
Determine our approach to foundations. As a parallel to refining the focus of
our projects, we must design our strategies for pursuing foundations. We will need
Continue to build our list of key contacts and foundation resource people
Advisory board. The concept of an advisory or resource group surfaced in some
of my conversations. There are a number of resource people within or associated with
SRG stations who would be tremendous assets to a regional or national foundation
effort. These include some of the staff at joint licensees, board members of some
stations, SRG managers, or people from other non-SRG member groups (NPR, PRI,
Pacifica) and the development offices of some of the institutional licensees. As we
outline the Foundation Projects we will explore the idea of building either an
informal network of advisors for foundation fundraising, or we may establish some
form of a foundation advisory group.
Identify and pursue a lead group of national foundations that may be willing to work
closely with SRG in the development of these projects
Identify and pursue non-SRG contacts and resource people both within and outside of
Define our position in relation to other national organizations that are also
competing for national foundation grants (NPR and PRI) as well as individual SRG
members that are national program producers
Identify other tools should we use in developing our relationship with foundations
(a foundation survey, links with non-broadcasting institutions, highly visible
individuals who can help champion our cause)